Jo E. Prout

Penalty-Rich Bills Must Move Forward

Created on Sept. 19, 2013 6:09 AM EST

Penalties due to personal fouls have no place on the Buffalo Bills’ football field, and no business among the Bills’ athletes. The NFL rightly imposed a $7,875 fine on Bills linebacker Arthur Moats for pulling on a New England Patriot player’s face mask during the season opener. Moats was flagged and given a 15-yard penalty for the foul, contributing to the 75 yards Buffalo lost against New England.

Moats’s penalty is just one example of the multiple penalties incurred by Buffalo during that game, the win over the Carolina Panthers, and throughout the preseason. Excessive penalties have caused massive yardage loss, which the Bills cannot afford if they hope to step up to the next level and take the lead in the AFC East.

“We’ve got to continue to work to get better and continue to improve,” said Buffalo Bills Head Coach Doug Marrone after a close win over the Panthers, “because if you make mistakes, you miss a field goal, you turn the ball over, you get penalties in crucial situations, [and] you don’t have a lot of opportunities to win in this league because it’s so close.

“I thought there were some critical [mistakes],” Marrone continued. “Again, a penalty came up that really hurt us.”

Skills, rather than penalties due to desperation, should be where the Bills athletes place their focus on the field. How are the penalties the Bills are racking up affecting the players?

“Watching plays that we could have made against New England that we didn’t, or got called back because of penalties or some other type of mistake” disappointed them, said Bills center Eric Wood after the Panthers game. “This week, it’s encouraging because we won and can say, ‘Man, we can get so much better,’ but last week when we lost it was extremely disappointing seeing the plays we left out there.”

Penalties are a part of the game, but, in excess, they hurt more than they help. Worse, penalties bring down the tone of the game, and the level of professionalism exhibited by the players.

“Penalties on both sides of the ball put us behind the eight-ball a lot,” said Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams. “If you keep giving an experienced quarterback like that and a team that’s won a lot of football games opportunities with penalties and things like that, it comes back to bite you.”

Williams’s words echo those of fans claiming that the only consistency this team has seen is its penalties. During the Patriots game, for example, the Bills made 13 penalties.

“Penalties when you’re under pressure can happen,” Williams said. “You get a face mask when you really didn’t mean to, or you’re holding a guy, or you might hit a guy late -- not excessively late, but still late. The thing that’s hard are the pre-snap penalties, the off sides, the false starts, misalignments, those sorts of things are things that are killing you and you really have to pay close attention.”

Buffalo’s rivals are paying attention to how well the Bills shore up the holes in the team’s game day performances. If the Bills can reduce their penalties, the respect they receive, on and off the field, can only rise.

“I’m here to win. I’ve been around a long time,” Williams said. “I just want to win, and we have to find a way to make the plays at the end of the game.”

The fewer the penalties, the greater the professionalism. Making the plays will be cake.

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